WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Across the country, the average price of a new home has gone up by about 36 thousand dollars since this same time last year. Across Kansas, builders are struggling to frame up.
It’s the perfect storm. People want to realize their American dream and buy a home, but as the pandemic rages on, the inventory of homes for sale is scarce, and so are laborers and materials to build new ones. It’s a side-effect few accounted for including home builder Bob Cook.
“100 people could have a job in this town tomorrow if they wanted it,” said Cook.
Cook has been in business since 1978 and said it’s the first time he has struggled this much to get the workers he needs to get homes off the ground.
“I talked to the foundation people just a little while ago, there were 30 people short of what they want, the electricians 15 to 20, the plumber could use five or six, you know,” said Cook. “All the way through siders, everybody could use help.”
Juan López runs an HVAC business. He’s so short on help that the staff he currently employs are working hours on end. “Sometimes we were 14, 15 but at least 12,” said López.
A lack of skilled hands isn’t the only issue. A worldwide shortage of materials is causing prices to soar, and it’s keeping people waiting.
“Eight to 10 months to build new homes,” claimed Cook. That’s double the time it used to take before the pandemic. “It’s all because of shortages. Labor, materials,” suggested Cook.
Wess Galyon of the Wichita Area Builders Association said the market is just starting to adjust to the demand.
“It’ll continue to be a robust market for the balance of this year and throughout most of next year,” said Gaylon.
This means the wait is on for materials. As for the demand for laborers, it isn’t going anywhere. “We have like five people right now, we try to find some more, but nobody wants to do it,” exclaimed López.
Cook is having the same issue. “The jobs are here. We just need to get people to come back to work,” added Cook.